Today we announced a partnership with Schola Technologies to deliver an integrated online school management system for roll out in the New Zealand 2011 school year.
Managing school finances and the various stakeholders can be a nightmare. We’ve heard from many accountants that they avoid school boards because they don’t want to get dragged into the mess and many of our partners have asked when will we do Xero for Schools.
Since we mentioned Xero for Schools last year we’ve had a detailed look at the school software market. From an accounting features point of view – schools sit between normal small business software and low end ERP software. We have quite a number of schools using Xero already, but we believe there is a great opportunity to extend the Xero feature set in a few key areas to deliver a very powerful solution for schools and save a huge amount of money that can be better spent on education outcomes.
Schools are the key first customers in the Government’s Fibre to the Home (FTTH) initiatives. For school principals to create a business case to connect to the new fibre networks, the software industry has to provide quality cloud solutions that can remove local servers and their associated management costs from school budgets.
While Xero should be able to work well with schools on its own, we identified significant additional benefits in integrating school management with financials. We had a good look around at the existing School Management vendors. While there have been some great companies, most of the solutions are dated and the customers at the schools we talked to were very frustrated. Then late last year we met Schola Technologies.Schola operates the school management system SchoolMaster and has been developing a new online solution called Assembly. Assembly helps schools with analysing student learning including, presenting National Standards, the management of planning and assessment by teachers, and student administration – including electronic attendance. Assembly is of a similar generation and design approach as Xero and quite frankly we’re excited about how much better Assembly and Xero will make things for schools and their stakeholders.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do but we’re well progressed in adding key features for schools into Xero over the next few months and hope to be in a position to show the integrated solution during Q3 this year – well in advance of the 2011 school year start.
For us at Xero, schools are a strategic vertical we want to play a part in. As parents we want to see our kids get the best education they can. We hope we can help by making school administration easier and help with the business case for fibre connections to schools.